Pour an artist a cocktail to “stir the creative juices,” then hand over a Sharpie and a napkin. What doodle will result? We find out in this just-for-fun Friday series.
The Cocktail: Bourbon Maple Sour, Maker’s Mark Bourbon, local maple syrup and orange bitters, at Baileys’ Range
The Artist: Dan Martin, illustrator of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s beloved, 111-year-old Weatherbird. Martin got his start as a professional artist drawing caricatures out at Six Flags at 16, then nabbed a spot on the Post right out of college – 32 years ago. “I started in 1980, and five years later, Albert Sweitzer, who was drawing the Bird at the time, told me he was planning to retire.
“After I had practiced for about a year, we took 10 Weatherbird drawings of mine mixed in with 10 of Albert’s and showed them to editor Bill Woo, who couldn’t tell the difference, though, of course, Albert and I could. So I got the job.
“The Weatherbird takes on a life of its own with each artist. He decided to quit smoking cigars after working with me for a few years.”
What made you choose a Bourbon Maple Sour?
I usually only drink beer or bourbon, and this had bourbon in it. I didn’t know there was such a thing as “local” maple syrup. I thought it all came from Vermont. Live and learn. I haven’t had a whiskey sour in years.
What sort of restaurants do you like here in St. Louis?
My wife’s a great cook, so we don’t go out to eat all that much. When I go out it’s usually for lunch. I like Charlie Gitto’s Downtown a lot. They have great salads, roast beef sandwiches, and, of course, toasted ravioli. And Charlie’s a terrific guy, too. I also really like McMurphy’s. It’s run by the St. Patrick Center; they train homeless people to be in the restaurant business. I go there a lot because it’s close to the paper, it’s a good cause, and they have great fish and chips. Pappy’s Smokehouse has the best barbecue in town. In one of those small-town St. Louis circles, Mike Emerson of Pappy’s grew up with all my cousins in Epiphany Parish. I like the cheeseburgers at Blueberry Hill, too.
Back when I started at the Post-Dispatch, the Globe-Democrat was still in business, and after work the Missouri Bar and Grill would look just like something out of The Front Page or Damon Runyan: Globe reporters in one corner, Post reporters in another, and all of them drinking heavily. Nowadays, our favorite staff watering hole is The Dubliner.
I really miss a restaurant called Beffa’s, which closed last year after operating for over 100 years. It was a cafeteria-style Italian Swiss place, in a weird little building on Olive with no sign, no phone number, no menu and no prices. You could see everyone in there from bishops to gossip columnists to Stan Musial to Tom Eagleton.
What kind of food do you eat at home?
I am a terrible cook. I have no talent for it. I’m being brutally honest here. I can make a bagel or toast with butter and jelly, but that’s about it.
I’m a very simple, pedestrian sort of eater. My roots are South County’s Concord Village. And now I live in Crestwood, which is yet another typically burger-esque, plain vanilla, white bread suburban community.
I am capable of barbecuing. When I get tragically ambitious I can make pulled pork that my father, who was from Tennessee, taught me how to slow cook on a Weber grill. I serve that with a vinegary, sweetish hot sauce.
As I said, my wife’s a great cook. My favorite thing she makes is angel-hair pasta with some kind of sauce on top. I don’t know what’s in it, but it tastes really good.
Baileys' Range, 920 Olive St., Downtown, 314.241.8121, baileysrange.com
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EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Weatherbird's age. The story now reflects the correct age.